The Sacred Ritual of Smudging
Ritual allows us to enter sacred space
with awareness to flow. There is often a point of focus at the
center of a ritual in present time that helps us to reclaim our
spirituality. Performing ritual is simply a tool to reawaken this
aspect of our being because in it provides a signal to the body
to begin physiological and energetic changes to initiate change
by aiming for an altered state of consciousness conducive to self-exploration
and reprogramming. The ritual of smudging can be defined as "spiritual
house cleaning." It refers to passing one self or an object
through sacred smoke as a means of purification, which is an energetic
ritual is an age-old tribal tradition used for centuries by the
native people of both North and South America, European peasants
and Siberian shamans to open the doors of the soul to the spirit
world. They burned certain herbs and incense as a way of gaining
access to the soul and power of plants for spiritual, ceremonial
and magical use. Certain plants when burned release a high vibrational
energy through the fragrance and their smoke is used as an offering
to create harmony and peace, purification and healing protection
of physical and spiritual bodies, banishment of negative energies
and creation of sacred space. When the herbs are burned it is thought
that the soul of the plant is released to aid its energies for a
particular invocation. In theory, the smoke attaches itself to negative
energy and as the smoke clears it takes those negative energies
with it and releases it into another space where it will be regenerated
into positive energy.
used in Smudging
The plant is the teacher,
the true authority on which heals or is best for magic. There are
certain plants that are held in high esteem in most traditions.
The smoke from sacred plants and herbs traditionally used to purify
are tobacco, sweetgrass, sage, and cedar. However, the types of
herbs used with their many local varieties may vary as purposes
overlap and change by tradition and personal preferences.
In many traditions,
shamanic smudging involves a four directions ceremony or prayer,
which sends specific kinds of smoke or prayers into the four directions.
Different tribes, Covens and Shamans have different smudging prayers
that program the smoke to do a specific action. In general smudging
is used to purify and cleanse spiritually, call for balance and
harmony, to aide in divination, invoke spirits, healing powers and
to carry prayers further into the Universe.
sticks are tied in a bundle for easier handling. Some herbs are
used loose or braided like Sweetgrass. The bundles are usually handmade
and prepared using traditional methods from the finest-quality sacred
herbs which are 100% pure and grown without chemical synthetics
or petroleum distillates, which is important since the smoke is
inhaled. Smudge sticks are used for ceremonial purposes, offerings,
or simply to recreate the ancient Aromas.
No other plant is endowed with such qualities, which is why pure
tobacco is used in American Indian rituals.
can be used for general purposes. The word sage or salvia comes
from the Latin word salvare, which means "To Heal.” Sage
has long been used in “smudging” ceremonies to promote
purification, protection, longevity, and immortality. Studies have
shown that the smoke of burning sage literally changes the ionization
polarity of the air. Its element is air.
Sage is one of the most sacred herbs among Native Americans
used to purify the mind, body and spirit before prayer, meditation,
ritual or ceremony and to purify sacred items such as pipes, magical
tools, tarot decks and eagle feathers. This sage is great to cleanse
an area, the house and for aura cleansings. The scent of desert
sage is somewhat sharp, light and refreshing.
- White Broadleaf
Sage is excellent for meditation, divination, smudging,
cleansing and purification. Broad leaf sage is considered the
king of all sages. It is prized over all the sages for its strong
was offered to the fire to smudge the lodge and people. Its smoke
is wafted to ward away sickness.
is excellent for cleansing sacred space that helps us to center
ourselves and is traditionally believed to invite good spirits.
Sweetgrass is a rare grass which is found growing wild in very few
places. It has a sweet and light fragrance that does not last for
Herbs can be burned
singly or in combination with each other. A second herb is used
to bring in whatever influence is needed.
& Sage (either desert sage or white broadleaf sage)
is a good combination that covers all four magical elements of air,
fire, water and earth. This combination is appropriate for general
use, cleansing, ceremony and ritual.
Sage provides the perfect balance for cleansing and enlivening
Common Herbs used in Smudging
Here are some general
uses for the different herbs often used for smudging.
Resin or holy incense is common to the peoples of Mesoamerica.
It is traditionally used as incense in divinatory and cleansing
ceremonies. The resin contains aromatic chemicals called terpenes,
which make it volatile and flammable. It was used by Mayan shamans
prior to ingesting mushrooms. Its elemental is primarily fire and
water, but can also be used for four-element general purposes. When
burned, the scent is sweet, resinous, slightly woody, mildly earthy
was used by the ancient Egyptians in rituals of healing
and passing. It is one of the ingredients they used to embalm bodies.
The resin is gathered from the almost leafless Middle Eastern shrub
called the Commiphora Molmol. It is useful for spirituality, meditation,
happiness, release, transformation, strength, confidence and stability.
Its elemental is primarily earth, but can also be used for four-element
general purposes. The scent is a piney and very earthy that produces
a lot of smoke when burned.
Resin is used extensively in meditation and healing and
is my very favorite. It is used in numerous religious traditions
such as the Catholic Church. Its scent is believed to confer divine
blessing. Its elemental is primarily fire, but can also be used
for four-element general purposes. Frankincense comes from the resin
of an African tree and produces a rich, dense smoke when burned.
was used by Native American cultures for its spiritual and healing
properties that are cleansing, strengthening and warming. It is
used to refresh the senses and revive a tired soul. Its elemental
is primarily fire, but can also be used for four-element general
purposes. The fragrance is pleasant and meditative and when burned
it produces a thick stream of smoke.
Juniper was used in ancient times for ritual purification
of temples. Its smoke is believed to aid clairvoyance and stimulate
contact with other worlds. It is also stimulative and therefore
effective in reviving a tired body, mind or spirit. Its elemental
is primarily fire, but can also be used for four-element general
purposes. The scent is sharp and piney and was burned during the
Plague to resist disease.
is useful for attracting peace, happiness and restful sleep. It
reduces depression, grief and sorrow and aids in meditation, manifestation
and divination. It is traditionally associated with fairies and
elves. The element is primarily air. The scent is a refreshing and
Leaves are used for meditation and divination. It is thought
to enhance psychic abilities, magical protection, healing and spiritual
Hibiscus Flowers are often used in divination and
psychic communication. The flowers are excellent for rejuvenating
the senses and restoring life force. The elementals are water and
fire. The scent is invigorating and sharp and lasts for a long time
and Petals is used for meditation, divination, increasing
psychic abilities and communication, contacting powers and beings
in other dimensions. Traditionally the rose is associated with attracting
love, conferring peace, stimulating sexual appetites and enhancing
beauty. The element is primarily water. The scent is heavy, warm
and aromatic with a hint of sharpness that lasts a long time after
When to Smudge
Smudging ourselves daily can be very helpful in keeping
balance and in maintaining a peaceful state of being, especially
before meditation. Specific times to smudge are when we have been
around people who are ill, depressed, fearful, angry or who are
generally emotionally unbalanced. Also, when we feel blue or depressed,
have been under much stress or after an argument, in which case
the environment should also be cleared as well as the auric field
of the person.
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